Von der Leyen wins approval for top EU role


Ursula von der Leyen has narrowly secured backing for her appointment as European Commission president as deep scepticism from pro-EU parties forced her to rely on votes from the far-right and populist MEPs.

乌尔苏拉•冯德莱恩(Ursula von der Leyen)以微弱优势争取到对她的欧盟委员会(European Commission)主席任命的支持。来自亲欧盟(EU)政党的强烈怀疑使她不得不依赖极右翼和民粹主义的欧洲议会议员的投票。

After a final appeal to the European Parliament, the former German defence minister won just 383 votes in favour of giving her the top job in Brussels, succeeding Jean-Claude Juncker. The majority of nine votes is the smallest ever backing for a commission president since parliament was given the power to reject nominees under the 2008 Lisbon treaty.

在向欧洲议会(European Parliament)发出最后呼吁后,德国前国防部长仅赢得383张选票支持她接替让-克洛德•容克(Jean-Claude Juncker)出任欧盟委员会主席。自2008年《里斯本条约》(Lisbon treaty)授权议会否决被提名人以来,仅仅9票的多数票是欧盟委员会主席获得的最少支持票数。

The narrow approval of Ms von der Leyen’s five-year mandate at the commission marks a victory for the EU’s national leaders. Driven by France’s Emmanuel Macron, they faced down MEPs’ demands that one of the so-called lead candidates in May’s European elections should get the Brussels top job.

冯德莱恩以微弱优势获得欧盟委员会主席的五年任期,标志着欧盟国家领导人的胜利。在法国总统埃马纽埃尔•马克龙(Emmanuel Macron)的推动下,他们敢于对抗欧洲议会议员们的要求,即应该由5月欧洲选举中的所谓领先候选人之一获得布鲁塞尔的最高职位。

But the push by EU leaders turned many mainstream MEPs against the German candidate and the extremely tight vote in favour of Ms von der Leyen potentially carries a significant cost for the reputation of her administration, which is scheduled to take office in November. A total of 327 MEPs voted against her and 22 abstained.


“The task ahead of us humbles me, it is a big responsibility and my work starts now,” Ms von der Leyen said after the vote. Unable to build a formal coalition across the parliament’s pro-EU parties, Ms von der Leyen, a conservative, was forced to rely on votes from anti-establishment and far-right MEPs from Italy, Poland and Hungary, support critics say may compromise her mandate.


The outcome of the vote also highlights the acute challenge Ms von der Leyen will face when her commission seeks to pass legislation. The parliament is more fragmented than at any point since direct elections began in 1979.


Ms von der Leyen peppered her pitch to MEPs with references to her upbringing in Brussels as “a European”, as well as social and environmental policy initiatives aimed at winning round centre-left MEPs. Switching confidently between English, German and French, she pleaded with MEPs not to wreck a historic moment for the EU. “It’s with enormous pride that I can say there’s finally a woman candidate for commission president,” she said.


She also told the chamber: “Anyone who wishes to help Europe will find in me a passionate fighter by their side . . . Anyone seeking to split and destroy our values will find a fierce opponent.”


Some MEPs nonetheless fear Ms von der Leyen will be too servile to the member states who nominated her, or too soft on populists undermining the rule of law. Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ’t Veld asked whether she would be a “lapdog of the member state” or “the pit bull that I would like you to be?”

尽管如此,一些欧洲议会议员担心冯德莱恩会对提名她的成员国太过顺从,或对破坏法治的民粹主义者过于软弱。荷兰自由派欧洲议会议员苏菲•因特•维尔德(Sophie in ’t Veld)问道,她会成为“成员国的哈巴狗”还是“我希望你成为的斗牛犬?”

While light on detail, Ms von der Leyen’s policy agenda showed continuity with Mr Juncker’s outgoing commission, alongside some added emphasis on green and gender issues. She promised to propose an EU carbon border tax, carbon neutrality by 2050 and a green deal on investment within her first 100 days in office. Ms von der Leyen also hit out at international technology groups that “play” the European tax system, backed an EU-wide unemployment insurance scheme and proposed a gender-equal college of commissioners.

虽然在细节上说得不多,但冯德莱恩的政策议程显示出与即将离任的容克委员会的连续性,只是更加注重环保和性别问题。她承诺在上任的头100天内,提议一项欧盟碳边境税,到2050年实现碳中性,以及一项绿色投资协议。冯德莱恩还抨击“玩弄”欧洲税收体系的国际科技集团,支持欧盟范围的失业保险计划,并提议成立一个性别平等的专员团(college of commissioners)。